I spent much of 2013 optimizing for opportunity — professional and personal. I decided well before New Year’s Day 2014, however, to spend 2014 optimizing for happiness. I wasn’t positive what that meant at first, though I knew that I wanted it.
Surprisingly, my happiness improved by at least 10x within the first month of 2014, and with just a few small changes to my routine:
Exercise — something I’ve obviously done before. This is different, however. I started the T25 workout regime after a friend recommended it — 6-days per week with 1 day of rest. And I absolutely love it!
It requires zero thought, because routines are pre-defined; it’s a solid 25-minute, no-rest workout; and it is ONLY 25-minutes, meaning that I can never claim that I have no time to exercise.
And I am reaping all of the downstream benefits, including extra energy, improved self-esteem, less fatigue, etc. I am also more inclined throughout each day to drink that extra glass of water, walk to my next meeting, take those extra stairs, etc. Fitness begets more fitness, especially at a subconscious level.
Daily Email — each morning I spend no more than 5-minutes before I start any other work tasks to send a small note of gratitude to someone in my life, whether it is a friend, family member or coworker. The notes are not long, and they are sent via email. I’ve found that sharing my gratitude for even the smallest of gestures can be tremendously uplifting, both for my spirits and those of the person that I am emailing.
Weekly Email — every Friday I send an email synopsis of my week to the CEO of our company (aka my manager) highlighting roadblocks that I could use his help with, and any key accomplishments that he should be aware of.
He and I sit less than 5-feet from one another and we talk daily, though this one simple act has helped us to remove duplication, limit regular interruptions, and helped us to both prioritize and execute without distraction. This has absolutely improved our already impressive speed of execution, as well as my personal work satisfaction.
The one lesson that I’ve drawn from all of this is that you never need to ‘feel like’ doing something in order to start doing it. For instance, given the choice at 5:30am between sleeping more and working out, I don’t always 'feel like’ working out, but I do it. And I am significantly happier for it!